Presentation on theme: "How to Protect Yourself and Your Opportunity for Citizenship."— Presentation transcript:
How to Protect Yourself and Your Opportunity for Citizenship
In the United States, a notario, visa consultant or licenciado is not a lawyer and can not provide legal services concerning immigration or citizenship. In addition to licensed attorneys, there are many legitimate community and religious organizations that provide immigration- related services. Fraudulent immigration consultants could take your money without ever planning to file the documentation you need to seek citizenship. If you are the victim of immigration consultant fraud, you could be subject to many consequences, including deportation, and possibly lose the opportunity to become a U.S. citizen. Protect yourself by knowing your rights!
Individuals who advertise as notarios have no legal authority to provide immigration services. Be suspicious if you are asked to sign documents that are blank, contain false information or that you dont understand. Be wary when an individual requests payment before performing any services or asks for more money than already agreed upon.
Immigration consultants must be licensed attorneys or accredited representatives. Ask for a consultants credentials and a list of references (former clients) to contact about previous services provided.
Demand a written contract of representation from your consultant and review it carefully. You have a right to rescind or cancel this contract within 72 hours (3 days) of signing it.
Unless signing a contract with a lawyer, the contract must: Describe the services to be provided and the fees associated with these services; Notify you of your right to consult an attorney before signing the contract; Advise you of your right to rescind the contract; Advise that the consultant is not an attorney and cannot provide legal forms, legal advice or legal services; Advise that a fee cannot be accepted for referring clients to other persons.
Never leave your original documents with anyone else. Have an immigration consultant fully explain the process, timeline and potential risks. Dont be pressured into making any decisions that you do not understand or make you feel uncomfortable.
Victims of immigration consultant fraud may be subject to deportation, or possibly lose their opportunity to become U.S. citizens.
Be sure to determine the fees involved, including whether you will be charged a flat rate or by the hour. Get a receipt for every payment you make. Never pay fees without understanding the services that will be provided.
Make sure the immigration consultant you are working with is licensed to provide services. You can do so through : Maryland Client Protection Fund (410-685-7878 or 1-800-492-1964) American Immigration Lawyers Association (1-800-954-0254) U.S. Department of Justice (202-514-2000) Various community organizations in your area
If you are a victim of immigration consultant fraud, you may be able to recover: Any fees paid to the consultant Reasonable attorney fees Damages up to three times the amount paid
To file a complaint by phone: Call the Consumer Protection Division Mediation Unit hotline at 410-528-8662 or 1-888-743-0023. To file a complaint by mail: Mail a copy to Office of the Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division, Attn: Mediation Unit, 200 Saint Paul Place, Baltimore, MD 21202. Attach copies of relevant documents (keep originals). To file a complaint over the Internet: Go to www.oag.state.md.uswww.oag.state.md.us Click on Quick Link for File a Consumer Complaint on the right hand side of the website and follow the instructions.